Intuition, Gut instinct and Missed Opportunities

* “Intuition is not independent of any reasoning process.  In fact, psychologists believe that intuition is a rapid-fire, unconscious associating process-like a mental puzzle.  The brain makes an observation, scans its files, and matches the observation with existing memories, knowledge, and experiences.  Once it puts together a series of matches, we get a “gut” on what we’ve observed.”  Dr. Brene Brown

 In the cases of Shawn Hornbeck, Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard and the three young women recently saved from captivity, we see an important role everyday individuals play in the success of these compelling stories.  For the few cases that come to the public eye, there are so many more that simmer in the midst of our communities, waiting to be revealed.  One person can make a difference.

  • We have to recognize that one person has made a difference.
  • We have to believe that any one person can make a difference.
  • We have to incorporate into our core that each of us can be the one person to make a difference.

We hear of missed opportunities, calls that could have been made, actions that could have been taken, which possibly could have led to an earlier resolution in these stories; based upon   Intuition or gut instinct.  Regardless of what we do know at this point, in each of these cases there does appear to be missed opportunities that could have brought these people freedom sooner.

– Whoa!  –

This is no way a pointing of fingers at any person or organization.  It is normal for the ball to be dropped, that is how we learn.  Being aware of missed opportunities and learning from them is a valid method to help all of us understand and become more cognizant of these types of crimes, more aware of our community, individual behavior and those odd things that nag at the back of our conscious.  If we hear more discussion of things people missed or dismissed and did not report we can examine and relate to that information.  Hopefully, that will either trigger our own gut instincts/memories or help us to be more aware in the future and thus become a more effective society in keeping our children safe and getting them help.

Simply stated we need to be more aware, more informed.  These villains, these predators, and the confused or lost souls that protect them live amongst us; friends, neighbors, and relatives.  Manipulation and deceit are not the middle names of these predators, they are their first names.  They can mislead detectives, police, forensic specialist, initially.  Therefore, you know they can fool and control the average person.  That is not our shame but a testimony to their expertise and the secret to their success.  We can hone our Intuition or gut instinct by learning the characteristics of the pedophile, become familiar with the cycle of grooming, and the personalities of those that protect the predators.  We may not all fully come to understand the psychology, but we can learn enough to:

  • understand sexual crimes against children happen all around us,
  • understand the importance of being an active part of the safety process, even if anonymously,
  • understand we should not feel badly about reporting.
  • understand the predators have the laws on their side, not the child.

Attempting to understand the basic reason why these abducted children or those currently being abused in their own home do not cry out is important.  Almost every parent I speak with says, “My children tell me everything,”  “We are so close, I know they would run away, yell and come running to tell me.”  That unrealistic self-assuredness is the strongest gift to the abuser/predator, especially if they are family or like family.  They use that false security we hold in our relationships and overpower it with their practiced deceit and manipulation.  The following excerpt from a Newsweek article sheds a little light.

 Young Shawn Hornbeck had plenty of chances to flee his captor.  So what made him stay?”

 Things aren’t nearly so simple, according to experts in child psychology.  A captor can confine a child with psychological barriers as much as physical ones.  “When a young child is taken from his family and isolated and perhaps threatened, and those threats are backed up by violence—all that plays a tremendous role in silencing the child,” says Dr. Terri Weaver, associate professor of psychology at St. Louis University.  Abductors “know how to create a paralyzing sense of fear so even when the captor is not present, the child feels he is omnipresent.”  As a result, she argues, people should “withhold judgment and blame on this child.”

These psychological barriers mentioned in the case of Shawn Hornbeck also occur when a child is being abused in their own home.  The child may be threatened with:

  • loss of someone they love
  • loss of their own life
  • told the predator will harm another child (if the child doesn’t cooperate)
  • told they (the child) will not be believed
  • told they (the child) wanted the “bad things” to happen
  • told everyone will blame them (the child).

Information does fall through the cracks therefore, it is also important to follow up, to call in with new suspicions, and to encourage others to do the same.  As we have seen, it takes many reports to get enough legal support for these entities to take action.  This success depends upon each individual accepting that the abuse of our children is a real problem.  Accepting each of us can make a difference and agreeing to the idea it is possible to stop this wholesale destruction of our children.  We can be a success and stem this tide if as individuals we trust our Intuition or gut instinct, become more willing to stand up, speak out and take action.  This choice to be proactive can be the difference in the length time it takes to locate missing children, like Shawn Hornbeck or to shorten the time it takes to remove a child from an abusive in-home situation.


* Quotation from; Brown, Brene Ph.D ., L.M.S.W. ( 2010).  THE GIFTS OF Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. MN: Hazeldon press


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